As China embarks on its journey towards becoming a modern socialist country in all respects, the international academic community is actively engaged in discussions surrounding Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. Numerous universities and research institutions abroad have recognized Xi’s thought as a significant research area. In a recent interview with CSST, Rui D’ávila Lourido, director of the Observatory for China and president of China-Portugal Friendship and Cooperation Association, shed light on the guiding role of Xi’s thought in both China’s national governance and foreign policies.
Smart, prudent governance philosophy
When discussing the significance of Xi’s thought in enhancing China’s domestic development and elevating its role in the international system, Lourido said that Xi’s thought holds immense value and is a highly significant concept. “I believe that Xi’s smart and prudent governance philosophy has been demonstrating his ability to correctly reflect on China’s internal and external affairs with grand visions as the top leader of China. It is deeply rooted in the actual historical tradition and social reality of the Chinese people,” Lourido said.
As Lourido pointed out, a big advantage of the Chinese system lies in its implementation of socialist democracy. “The CPC has established a collective system of socialist wisdom, where it is crucial to know how to listen to the opinions of the majority of its people. It manages to select the best and the most selfless cadres, after evaluating their work experience and dedication to the cause of defending the motherland and the Chinese people,” Lourido explained.
“At the same time, Xi and the CPC have carefully studied the world situation, continuing to open up China to the world,” Lourido said. The understanding of the global situation at the world level allowed a more active political participation in the international context, with specific proposals for peace of international conflicts.
“Xi’s moderate and rational posture allowed for greater visibility and participation of China in the international arena. Led by him, China has been the greatest stabilizing element of international system and made authentic contributions to world peace,” Lourido added.
Resilient socialist system
According to Lourido, many nations have realized that the predominant Western capitalist model will eventually bring about social polarization and create peripheries of extreme poverty on different continents. The Chinese governance model has directly and positively influenced developing countries, including even countries traditionally considered developed, such as the US, insofar as they prove the real possibility of an alternative path.
“Public opinion in the West is unaware that the Chinese population trusts their government the most,” Lourido continued. To explain his view, Lourido mentioned an original study conducted by the Harvard University Ash Center. This study provided a comprehensive and long-term perspective on how Chinese citizens perceive their government at the national, regional, and local levels. Notably, it was the first academic survey on Chinese public opinion conducted by a research institution outside of China, encompassing both major urban areas and less developed inland provinces of the country.
The study revealed an astonishingly high level of satisfaction with the government in China, with 95.5 percent of respondents expressing either “relatively satisfied” or “highly satisfied” sentiments. These findings suggest that over time, many individuals in China continue to exhibit a high level of satisfaction with government performance. The research conducted by the Ash Center team further demonstrates the remarkable resilience of the current socialist system with Chinese characteristics, Lourido said.
Respecting human rights
In Lourido’s opinion, the Chinese government demonstrates a deep commitment to upholding and safeguarding human rights, a principle that is not only enshrined in Chinese laws but also evident in the everyday lives of its people. “The best and clearest proof of the respect of human rights was the achievement of eradicating extreme poverty for more than 800 million people in China. The line below which the state of poverty is defined, used by the World Bank, is $1.90 a day. However, China was more demanding, and the government implemented a threshold above $2.30. China is historically the first Asian country to manage to eradicate absolute poverty from its territory in a sustainable way, and the poverty reduction target set by the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was achieved by China 10 years ahead of schedule,” he said.
“It is important to remember that China itself was a co-author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It goes even further and expands the guarantees of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by adding some guarantees. China respects the rights expressed in the declaration and implemented these rights in all the ethnic and geographic diversity of its vast provinces, autonomous regions and special administrative regions,” Lourido added.
As Xi pointed out, the Chinese dream not only represents the Chinese people’s pursuit of happiness, but also echoes the aspirations of the people all over the world. “China has become the biggest growth factor of the world economy and has allowed both developing countries and developed countries from Europe to recover from the recessions of world economy and its repercussions,” Lourido said, “I believe that Portugal and other European countries should actively strengthen their strategic partnership with China.”